We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page – clearly marked – may lead you to an affiliate website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.
Whether you have $ 25 million or $ 25 million to spare, there’s a lot to learn about how the richest woman in the world, MacKenzie Scott, donates her fortune.
Scott announced yesterday that she has donated $ 2.74 billion to 286 organizations so far in 2021, following a donation of $ 1.7 billion last July and another $ 4.2 billion in December. Scott is committed to donating the majority of her fortune throughout her life.
“To me, there is no question that everyone’s personal wealth is the product of collective efforts and social structures that provide opportunities for some people and countless other barriers,” wrote Scott in July, formerly married to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and remains the main shareholder of Amazon.
With a net worth that Bloomberg puts at nearly $ 60 billion, Scott wrote about how she plans to donate to organizations and leaders who best suit her values. Here are some ways you can take a page from Scott’s book and donate it in ways that advance your own values and make an impact on things that are important to you.
Do some research before you give
Scott takes many factors into account when looking for organizations to receive their donations. Determine how best to use your money for the purposes that inspire you by donating with similar care. Here’s what to look for:
Prior to making the donation, Scott reviews the governance of each organization and ensures that the executives have firsthand experience of the issues the organizations are focused on.
The executives of the organizations she has chosen bring “lived experience” to the issues they support, which, as she wrote, help better inform the solutions they are advocating. And because Scott believes that a range of perspectives and experiences are critical to problem solving, she and her team have “chosen on diversity in leadership in all categories of giving.”
So if you want to support racial justice, look for organizations that are led and supported by people of color. If public health is your concern, look for organizations with doctors and other health professionals on top.
Scott doesn’t want to take any chances when she donates. She has high expectations of the organizations she supports, and so should you. This means that she will not donate to any group that does not have a “track record of effective management and significant impact in their areas”.
Assess how well an organization’s claims align with its actions. Her research may also include how she has aligned her goals to connect with today’s most pressing issues like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both long-term and short-term vision is a common characteristic of the recipients Scott has selected. “Each of them tackle complex challenges that will require many years of sustained effort while simultaneously addressing the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she wrote.
So do research
While Scott has a whole team of nonprofit advisors who support their veterinary organizations, there is a lot you can do yourself to ensure that your donations have the most impact.
The Federal Trade Commission has a list of tools you can use to begin researching where your donations will work best:
This BBB Wise Giving Alliance website helps donors donate wisely by creating evaluation reports on charities. These reports deal with corporate governance, earnings reporting, finances, and truthful and transparent communication.
Charity Navigator provides information on all 1.6 million registered nonprofits in the United States and ranks charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. The rankings range from four stars for exceptional charities to zero stars for exceptional poor charities.
CharityWatch calls itself a Charity Watchdog and provides detailed ratings and analysis for over 600 charities. The website detects abuse by nonprofits and informs donors about how efficiently their donations can be used.
GuideStar is an information service you can use to find out details about the nonprofits you want to contribute to, from their missions to financial histories, annual records and reports.
From the Experts: Maximizing Your Donations
If you’re looking to start donating but don’t know where to start, start small, says Thomas Hlohinec, CEO of Rise Financial Partners in Philadelphia, a Christian financial advisory firm that focuses on aligning investing with value. Then you can determine what works best for you.
Before donating money to a charity, read the FTC’s guide to make sure you do it safely.
“If you can, set aside $ 5 to $ 50 a month for now,” says Hlohinec. “But at the end of the day, it’s really an individual thing.”
Whichever amount you choose, you can continue to expand your dollar and, best of all, incorporate giving into your overall financial plan with a little strategy, especially when it comes to investing.
IRA distribution rollover
Tax law requires account holders older than 70 ½ to make minimum distributions from retirement accounts each year (repealed for 2020 by the CARES Act), which are counted as taxable income. However, you can also make a direct transfer to a nonprofit and waive income tax on the distribution, says Katherine Earhart, financial advisor at Fairlight Advisors in San Francisco.
If you are donating to a charity directly from your IRA, the donation will reduce your gross adjusted income. According to Tara Unverzagt, a CFP with South Bay Financial Partners in Torrance, Calif., Lowering that amount can have several positive effects, such as: B. A reduction in your tax liability and lower Medicare premiums.
Set up a Donor Advised Fund (DAF)
If you have the resources, setting up a Donator Advised Fund (DAF) can be a great way to grow your donation. These funds work much like investment accounts, but are designed for charity – you can bring in assets like cash, stocks, and even real estate and then benefit from an instant tax deduction based on the amount you deposited.
As you decide which organizations to support, your donations can grow within the account. “They are excellent vehicles for people who know they want to donate to charity but may not know the specific charities today,” said Jirayr Kembikian, CFP at Citrine Capital in San Francisco. To donate money, submit a donation application to a qualified charity of your choice.
There is typically a high minimum donation requirement for these funds, says Christina Gamache, investment advisor at AUDAX Wealth Management in Anchorage, Alaska. A DAF through Schwab Charitable or Fidelity requires a minimum donation of $ 5,000. In addition, your contributions are irrevocable.
Donate appreciative investments
Instead of selling an asset and paying capital gains tax on sales, you can gift the asset directly to a charity that doesn’t have to pay taxes on its growth, says Ashley Coake, a Virginia CFP with Cultivate Financial Planning.
If you give away stocks that are valued, you can get 100% of the market value as a deduction from your taxes and waive capital gains taxes on the stocks, says Unverzagt.
“Let’s say you own 100 shares of Apple that you bought 5 years ago and they’re in a taxable account, not an IRA,” says Hlohinec. “That will bring a lot of long-term capital gains.” Instead of selling the shares and donating the after-tax proceeds, “you could just donate five shares directly.”
Non-profit estate planning
When looking at your long-term plan, identify charities as beneficiaries who will receive your wealth after your death. This step can be especially beneficial if you have accounts that haven’t been taxed, like IRAs, Coake says, since charities don’t have to pay taxes on these funds.
“When your children are cared for, you can go ahead and put them in your will, where either a percentage or a certain dollar amount of your wealth can go to charity,” says Hlohinec. “It’s a great way to plan for the future.”
Hlohinec also says that some people will set up a DAF as part of their estate plan, on the condition that beneficiaries decide where money will be donated.
Diversify your giving
No matter how much money you have to give, or what financial strategy you are pursuing, take a page from Scott’s book and diversify your support. Look at your own life and community to see what you are most committed to, be it gender equality, climate change, the right to vote, or others.
But donating money to more organizations is not the only way to diversify your charitable giving. Incorporate a giving way of thinking into your everyday life. Support brands that work for charity on their platforms while you shop for items that you have already budgeted for, for example.
And remember, money isn’t the only form of support. Giving away money is a luxury that many cannot justify in the midst of an economic recession, but Scott says one should not ignore other types of “wealth” that can make as big a difference.
Charitable organizations can “benefit from more allies,” wrote Scott, “including money, volunteer time, materials, advocacy, promotion, networks and relationships, collaboration, encouragement and trust.”
You don’t have to be the richest woman in the world to change anything. Think about the causes and problems that mean the most to you, then think about how you can best help.
Whenever you provide financial assistance, do thorough research to ensure that each of the organizations you support are in line with your policy and are diligent with the money they receive. When you have a large amount to give, work with a financial advisor or other professional to maximize your donation.
And don’t stop donating money or giving up donations because you don’t have the money; Also, look for non-monetary ways to donate, e.g. B. Volunteering or advocacy. Signing a petition, attending a workshop, or donating your time are great ways to get involved.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the minimum donation amount for a donor-recommended fund with Fidelity was $ 10,000. The minimum donation is $ 5,000.